NEW YORK (AP) — Jesse Williams has vowed not to lose heart after unauthorized nude photos and videos of him in the Broadway play “Take Me Out” have been posted online.
“I’m not depressed about it. Our job is to go on stage every night, no matter what,” Williams told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The leak of the images provoked protests from the producers of the play and the union that represents the actors and theater directors.
“I really don’t worry about it. Can’t. We need to keep advocating for ourselves. And it’s wonderful to see a community differ and make it clear what we stand for and what we don’t,” Williams said.
“Consent is important, I thought. So let’s keep that in mind universally.”
Williams stars in a revival of “Take Me Out,” a Richard Greenberg exploration of what happens when a major league pro baseball superstar comes out as gay, tracking how it disrupts the team and sparks toxic prejudice.
YOU CAN READ: Renata Notni, protagonist of the new “El Zorro” for Amazon
Williams earned a Tony Award nomination on Monday for portraying the superstar.
While Broadway shows have a strict policy against recording anything on stage, Second Stage Theatre, which produces the revival, added Yondr bags to protect the actors, many of whom appear nude in shower scenes.
Audience members arriving at the theater hand over their phones, which are then kept in sealed bags until the end of the show. The company said it will tighten security in the wake of the breach.
“The theater is a sacred space, and not everyone understands it. Not everyone necessarily respects or considers that in the way that maybe they should or would like to,” Williams said.
The leaked video is the latest incident in which an artist’s privacy or well-being was compromised, following Will Smith’s slap in the face of Chris Rock at the Oscars and Dave Chapelle being attacked by a man at the Hollywood Bowl.
One of Williams’ co-stars, Michael Oberholtzer, who also earned a Tony nomination on Monday, called the incident “very disappointing.”
“People feel that they can say and do things because they pay admission or because they are a subscription member or, in any case, that certain behavior is permissible. But is not. It’s a violation of people’s consent,” Oberholtzer said.
Williams says she was approached for the lead role in the revival while starring in the long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” but it wasn’t until after reading the play that she realized it included nudity.
“If someone had said that it is a work with nudity, it would have been framed differently.
But nudity is honest, it makes sense, it’s not salacious, it serves the story. It puts the audience in an interesting position to relate and empathize with the characters,” said Williams.